Signs reading “Go Green, Keep it Clean” and “Keep Florida Above Water” bobbed down the Sarasota Bayfront and up the Ringling Causeway during a climate change march this past Sunday, Nov. 29. Sarasota-Manatee residents joined in on one of more than 1,500 Global Climate March events organized by activism organization Avaaz.org on the eve of the Paris Climate Conference.
Honking cars, thumbs up from pedestrians and the record breaking November heat all blared the same message: climate change is real and it is here.
The march was hosted by Lynn McGonagill and her daughter Jamie, both local residents. Signs were distributed among the participants as Lynn McGonagill gave a heartening speech.
“We don’t have to get hung up on what we can’t do because we can all do something,” McGonagill proclaimed to the gathered marchers.
A 30-second video of the march was recorded by Lynn McGonagill and sent to President Obama with a message directly from the Sarasota people demanding action against climate change.
“I hope we spread awareness and I hope our public officials notice,” Jamie McGonagill said. “I think that the uprising of citizens around the world in a hundred different languages and a thousand different faces will bring some attention from the leaders.”
With 785,000 partakers in 175 countries, Sunday’s marches broke the record as the largest climate mobilization in history. France’s intended march of 500,000 people had to be cancelled for security reasons but activists collected more than 20,000 shoes belonging to those who planned to march and lined them up at the Place de la Republique.
“Unfortunately I think Sarasota as a community has its head in the sand and I say that sadly as someone who grew up here,” Lynn McGonagill said. “I was born and raised in Sarasota and I love my town but the problem is we are a Republican district and we still vote very much in that way. If we don’t change soon climate change is going to hit us in the face and we will have done nothing to prepare for it.”
The overarching goal of the organized marches was to demand a commitment to 100 percent clean energy. Where the marches establish a need for action against climate change, scientists and politicians alike scramble to answer the question of how.
“When [Bernie Sanders] declared his candidacy he said that we must combat climate change and reduce income inequality, so he started from these two major points” Sarasota resident Mirella Martinelli said. “He’s the only candidate willing to face corporations and regulate them. Without strong environmental regulations we are not going to combat climate change.”
Martinelli encouraged students interested in door-to-door lobbying for Bernie Sanders in New Town to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I am very glad with how the event turned out, the weather is perfect, people are enthusiastic, and drivers are friendly – what’s not to like?” Lynn McGonagill said.